Photo Reflection on Creativity Challenge

Day 20 of 28 of my writing challenge

I thought I show you a collection of some places I have been writing at the last couple of weeks. There have been much note taking and free writing, some of which I have to type at some point (not my favourite thing to do) and some that will stay as it is in its scraggly, ugly form. My handwriting is terrible when I get into a flow and my mind moves fast and my hand tries to catch up.

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Day 12 of 28.

Following the challenge of writing in a new spot every day has set me off on a path of lots of free writing. I bring a notebook with me wherever I go, but I usually use that for ideas and snippets of conversations that I want to save. This month, because I didn’t always know where I would end up, I brought a different notebook for free writing. This is a souvenir from my holiday to Japan this summer. It seemed properly inspirational for this purpose.


Sitting down in different places everyday, I try to write for at least 20 minutes without stopping and as the days have passed it has been easier to do this. Sometimes I have been working on something specific, but other times I simply sit down and observe, writing what I see, hear, smell, feel, taste, practicing using all senses, something I often lack in my writing.

A new habit often takes about 28 days to stick (hence the challenge) and I do have to agree that doing the same thing everyday has pushed on to me that I should be doing it from now on. More than halfway through the experiment, it has been quite an experience and the urge to write every day has definitely been established. I am glad that I decided to do this now, gearing up for NaNoWriMo next month and even though 20 minute won’t get me to 1666 words every day, the habit has been established.

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Here I am today!

Day 6 of my 28 day writing challenge and I did my daily writing stint in the staff room at one of the schools I coach at. There is a short period when my classes are done and the others haven’t finished yet and I usually have the staff room to myself. I usually spend this time evaluating and planning, but today I used the time free-writing one of the characters from my historical novel who needs some depth.


Most of my writing this week has been about Sören. He is a tricky character because I know I have been too kind to some of his more unpleasant character traits. He is really a nice guy, I promise, but I also know that to get the depth of the story I want, I need to make him more responsible for his deeds. Own up to his true character.

This challenge has been good for this exercise. Every day I focus on one bit of his characteristics, breaking it down like this has really helped to get under his skin. To me this challenge has not been so much about writing in different places to get a new perspective, as to find the time and energy to write every day, no matter how short period.

22 more days to go. Then 30 days of NaNoWriMo

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New writing places

I’m following the advice from a writing coach about finding a new place to write every day for 28 days. Partly to get into the habit of writing regularly for the upcoming NaNoWriMo in November, but also to inspire new creativity. It can be something simple as turning your chair around and get a different view for your eyes and brain to focus on.

I remember one day when I was stuck on a particular piece, I sat on a stool in my kitchen, waiting for the pasta water to boil when suddenly a solution to the piece I had struggled with came to me. I rushed to get my laptop and sat writing for two hours in the kitchen on this very uncomfortable stool and wrote like a madwoman. If there is something like ‘runner’s high’ for writers, I think I experienced that sitting on that stool in my cramped kitchen.

For this challenge, I hope to find some new fun places to write, and perhaps find a passion for handwriting, as some places might not be suitable for my laptop. I have gotten out of the habit to write by hand, because my penmanship is terrible and most of the time I can’t be bothered to spend the time to type things up afterwards. What I might try to do is write key words and not whole passages, which I then can use when I get home to make something out of it.

Follow me on Twitter to see where I’m writing every day.

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I’ve recently read Haruki Murakmi’s What I talk about when I talk about running and as a long distance runner myself, I am in awe of his dedication.

Vad jag talar om

My commitment to the sport is far from Murakami’s one hour daily run, but I try to get out at least two to three times per week and at least do one long power walk. During term time I have the luxury of a perfect one hour walk to one of my schools, with 30 minutes of uphill walking.

After my somewhat disastrous half-marathon in May where I had felt really good the weeks leading up to the race and I was sure of a new personal best, finishing three minutes above my PB I felt disheartened for weeks after. You have invested a whole lot of time and training to reach your goal and when you fall short it is not easy to put it behind you and start over. Especially when you think you could have done better, even though you also know you did your best for what the body could preform on that day.

When I haven’t signed up for a race, I’m usually a bit less committed to my trice weekly runs. But just like with my writing, I do like to plan my training so when I’ve signed up for a race, I sit down and think about how/where and what to run. This past summer I’ve done three 10k runs in the Royal Parks of London, a perfect distance once a month over the summer. Technically I can finish a 10k run without much extra or planned training, but somehow it feels more official if I make an actual plan for it. To order my mind and my schedule.

Running medaljer

Running is a bit like writing, if I don’t know where I’m going or how far I have to go, I often fall short of my goal. But give me a chance to make a good, solid plan, even if I fail to reach my goal, in the end I will recover much faster from the defeat.

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Summer research

I always try to use my summer holiday to cross off tasks from my never ending to-do list. I have about four weeks off, when the kids are out of school and I don’t work at summer camps. Spending them on my back reading, would be nice, but I would also feel like I’m wasting my time. Therefore I always make a specific task list for the summer. Usually it’s bigger projects, that needs a full day’s work to make any noticeable progress on. Most of the time it involves research.

This summer I concentrated a lot on getting everything right for my idea in progress that I have decided I will write for NaNoWriMo come November (I ditched the idea of screenwriting until next summer’s project). I don’t think I have ever been so prepared for November before as I am this year. Hopefully it will result in a decent novel to continue work on after November.

It’s not all work though, I do make sure I have some fun as well. Going to the theatre. At the Globe I saw an excellent production of Taming of the Shrew and then I saw the brilliant Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl. I also went to some exhibitions and galleries. The good thing about London is that many of these exhibitions are free which helps during the lean summer months when as a freelancer I won’t get paid.

Ahead of me lays a busy autumn, with lots of new challenges that I partly dread (moving, again) and partly can’t wait to get on with (NaNoWriMo).

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Back to school

I’m back to proper work this week. All my schools are back in session and everything is slowly returning to normal.

Over the summer there are always some children who don’t return to gymnastics. In London you get a lot of families moving away, their parents change work, decides to move further out in the suburbs etc. This term I lost a sibling pair that I will especially miss. When the oldest started he was so shy and timid, it took a long time for him to come out of his shell, but once he did, it was like looking at a whole new person emerge. His younger brother was quite the opposite. He ran into class the first time, so excited and hasn’t stopped running since. The brothers will be greatly missed by all coaches.

Children develop so much in a short period of time and keep surprising you with their personality changes and how they react to different things. Adults have often settled into who they are and change take much longer to happen. This makes children a great inspiration for characters. In one child you have the fodder for two or three different characters in the span of a year and it is interesting how these little characters changes me and makes me react in different ways to keep up with them!

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Inspiration: Japan

My trip to Japan was filled with new experiences and plenty of inspiration. Being forced to deal with new environments open your senses to everything around you. Coming away from this trip, I have heaps of ideas for new stories, but also new perspectives of old.

As a travelling experiences though, here are some of my highlights:

Climbing Mount Fuji.

Even now I still can’t quite believe we did it, and made it both up and down. My impression of the task beforehand was that it would be a fairly decent hike, nothing too strenuous. I mean, I’ve heard so many accounts of people doing it. The reality was much more difficult. At some parts of the trail, it was easier doing proper climbing using hands and feet than walk. The thinning air, was also a new experience. You still felt quite strong in your legs, but at the same time, you had no quite the power to bring that out. Living on a flat land and never climbed anything higher than a tree before, my body was not prepared for that experience. Even though it was all cloudy when we got to the top, the feeling of accomplishment was enormous.

The food.

Eating, ordering, food etiquette etc. Luckily none of us suffer from any allergies or are particularly picky with our food and we both like to eat. Most places had pictures on the menus and it was just to point at something that looked delicious. However, one evening we went to a small bar in the Kyoto neighborhood where we lived, where they only had a Japanese menu and no pictures. The waitress with very limited English (neither my sister nor I speak Japanese) did her very best to explain the menu to us and we ended up having some of the best food of the whole trip. Prepared behind the bar for us, the most incredible moist, fresh, tasty chicken wings, among much else that evening. We also developed a love affair with the sixth floor restaurants. Quite common, at least in the larger cities in Japan is for a building to have a different restaurant on each floor and you can’t always see what kind of place it is, you just have to get into the elevator and see where you end up. The first time we did this, we followed a group of Japanese girls to the sixth floor (when in doubt follow the locals) and ended up at a really nice restaurant. After this, whenever we couldn’t make up or mind for what food we wanted, we would end up on the sixth floor. It was very rarely we were disappointed with the food. The great thing as well is that most food is served in small portions to share, which is perfect when you want to try everything on the menu and if there is something you don’t like, you’ll try something else.

The people.

Friendly, polite and despite obvious language and culture barriers I’ve never felt so safe in a foreign country before. The mentality of the people compared to westerns is so different. Walking home late one night back to our hotel after we missed the last train, we walked past a group of Japanese (quite drunk) young men, who simply bowed towards us and let us pass without a word, whereas a bit further down the road we were accosted by two Americans who were blatantly rude and obnoxious shouting after us. It is simply a different mentality and I’ve never felt so welcome in a country where I absolutely understood nothing and often felt like a helpless child.


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Japan in pictures

As you might know I’ve had some weeks off over the summer and one of the reasons were because I went to Japan on holiday.

It was one of the most amazing trips I have ever made. So much to see, so much to do, so different to any place I have ever visited before.

The sprawling metropolitan that is Tokyo, we could spend weeks there and still find something new to do.

Climbing Mount Fuji

Visiting old Japan in Kyoto

And the new in Osaka

And some amazing food along the way.

If I could I would go back again, and again, and again.

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Summer Holiday

I will abandon this blog for a month during the summer holidays. I will be in Japan (excited!) for part of it and the rest of the time I will try to spend outside (if the weather gods allow it).

I’m going to try to finish some summer reads and spend some time free-writing using an actual pen and paper rather than being attached to a computer all the time.

See you at the end of August, in time for the school start and I have to return to my proper life.

view from my window

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